Harborfest attracts people, dollars to Oswego County
The city of Oswego's Harborfest began last night, and is estimated to draw more than 100,000 people to the area for a weekend of music, food and fireworks. For Oswego Mayor Thomas Gillen, it's also a boon for the city's coffers.
"We hope to make probably $50 million for the weekend," Gillen said. "It's a big impact on the entire community within ten miles of the city of Oswego. Hotels, restaurants, just general sales tax revenue is dramatically impacted over this. So, it's an incredible economic boon to the city and the community. It comes at a cost, though."
Oswego Police Lieutenant Charles Searor says the city budgets overtime pay into its annual spending for the hours of overtime put in by the city's police, fire and public works crews during Harborfest. The Oswego County Sheriff's Department, State Police and Border Patrol are also called in to help.
"With it being a smaller city and a smaller police agency, we have to draw from other resources to help us out with security measures and to cover all the venues," Searor said.
According to an economic impact study performed for Oswego County in 2005, Harborfest supported nearly 640 jobs and brought in a benefit of more than $40 million to the county. Gillen says with good weather on the horizon, attendance could climb higher this weekend and increase . But he also says Harborfest isn't all about filling the county and city's pockets.
"We want to generate a wealth base for the people who live here and the people who do business here," Gillen said. "So, we do not lose money on Harborfest, the city doesn't. But we think it's going to generate a lot of commercial wealth for the community. That's what this whole thing is about, is about the community."